Mundane Media Moments: Ageing, The Ordinary, and Everyday Life

On Wednesday June 26 ACT and  the Socio-gerontology Network hosted a panel discussion titled Mundane Media Moments: Ageing, the Ordinary and Everyday Life. Dr. Alexander Peine (chair of the Socio-gerontechnology Network) set the scene and moderated the discussion as a group of scholars shared their recent work and thoughts on how aging, the mundane, and technology are entangled. The question at the forefront of conversation was “How does the mundane matter?’. The audience and scholars were asked to consider how our daily practices are transformed by and with the technology in our lives. The panel moves past the assumption that technology is only worthwhile for its designed value and techno-optimist narratives about emerging designs.

Dr. Wendy Martin opened the panel discussion by highlighting just how much of what we do is “unremarkable”. Reframing the concept of mundane towards unremarkability, evaluates how human routine is interspersed with technology. Through a series of photos, Dr. Martin’s talk emphasized the tempo-spatial qualities of technology and their role within our daily routine. Martin highlighted how the pandemic puts into focus how the “mundane keeps us moving day by day” by helping us deal with challenging times and pointing to a relationship with technology when we think of what is missing.

Dr. Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol continued to explore the nature of the pandemic and the mundane by pointing to the insignificant ordinary questions we ask ourselves and others. Ordinary behaviours, like checking in with a friend, can quickly become remediated as our lives change. For her, the pandemic illuminates the mutability of mundane technologies where our communication goals change alongside our lives. Of course the pandemic was not the only focus, but rather it showed how some of our practices are typically rendered invisible until our lives begin to change. As our contexts change and we age, how we communicate and engage with technology does as well.

Providing tangible examples of this life-technology relationship, Dr. Galit Nimrod revisited their work on casual leisure with Grannies on the Net. Through rich focus group data, Nimrod pointed to casual leisure as a time filler commonly mediated by technology use. Unlike serious leisure that can quickly be tied to productive activities or “side-hustles”, a focus on casual leisure for older adults points to the various everyday life circumstances that they arise from. Time fillers are one example of a typically insignificant media moment that requires greater consideration.

Closing off the discussions, Dr. Daniel Lopez discussed ethnographic work on an app meant to counter older adult isolation. It explored how technology opens up new communication affordances for older adults, specifically focusing on memes. Memes, visual and textual images shared via a chat feature, completely altered the nature of communication on these devices and promoted specific behaviours through the app. Lopez’s work showed the paradoxes of technological affordances for altering communication. On the one hand, memes acted as an easy means to share and an inclusive form of communication. On the other hand, as more memes were posted the technology began to have storage issues and further isolated users by kicking them off the network. This relationship between everyday use and technology points to the need for research on the mundane forms of communication in our lives.

The panel ended with a series of questions posed by the audience which considered technological binaries, the nature of problematic technological actions (i.e., privacy),  and how this exploration of the mundane directly feeds into policy and research directions. The panel proved fruitful in fostering dialogue between leading scholars whose work intersects age with socio-technology. ACT is so grateful to have co-hosted this lovely event and if you are interested the full video is available for view below.

JAS Special issue – “Ageing Masculinities: Social and Cultural Representations” CFP

JAS Special issue – “Ageing Masculinities: Social and Cultural Representations”

Call for Abstract Submissions

Guest Editors: Jose M. Armengol, Roberta Maierhofer, Marge Unt & Liat Ayalon

Traditionally, Gender Studies has focused on women. Politically, this is logical. It is women who have experienced the worst effects of gender discrimination, and so it is women who were the first to make gender visible as a political category. Since the late 1980s, however, Gender Studies has increasingly focused on the lives of men recognizing the interconnectedness of the categories and the importance of active male participation in the struggle for gender equality in order for us all to live better, happier lives. Over the last twenty years, Gender Studies have increasingly expanded to incorporate critical studies on masculinities, which Michael Kimmel defines as the study of “men as men,” that is, “men as gendered beings” (2000). This has contributed to understanding masculinity – namely, the “signs, attributes, behaviours, roles, and/or practices that are associated with being a man/social male” (Hearn 2006) – as a specific gendered category revealing it as a social construction across different times and cultures (Gilmore 1990). In turn, this has promoted a thriving interdisciplinary field of masculinity research, which has given way to a fast-growing number of publications in the Social Sciences and the Humanities, including among others sociological, psychological, historical, anthropological, and cultural studies of masculinity.

Much less attention had been paid, however, to the specific intersection of gender and age, especially older men and masculinities (Thompson 2004). As principal investigators of a recently funded EU-research project on masculinities (www.mascage.eu), we are specifically interested in bringing together research conducted by scholars from different disciplines (including both the Social Sciences and Humanities) and nationalities in the fields of aging and gender studies. This special issue thus aims to be fundamentally interdisciplinary, focusing on both social science and primary data collection as well as critical studies of ageing masculinities as represented in literature and cinema. We specifically encourage collaborations between researchers from different disciplines and nationalities in order to explore the interactions between social constructions and cultural representation of ageing masculinities. The special issue will reflect our current collaborative efforts to better conceptualize and bring together the research in the field, especially the relevance of cultural representations to social constructions of aging masculinities, and the other way round.

Relevant abstracts (250 words) should be submitted by January 7th 2021 to JoseMaria.Armengol@uclm.es and roberta.maierhofer@uni-graz.at for consideration by the Guest Editors. Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit a full-length paper, with final manuscripts to be submitted by May 1st 2021.

More Details and Official Call found here: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-aging-studies/call-for-papers/ageing-masculinities-social-and-cultural-representations?fbclid=IwAR2LO3Z771UyEoRf_FqZOCUoo-1kIfxhP8XNNLLyGfqFturWz8ltReVbbzo

Constance Lafontaine awarded the Engaged Scholar Award

Concordia awarded ACT Associate Director Constance Lafontaine the Engaged Scholar award. The award highlights the work that Lafontaine has been doing within ACT at Concordia University, and her contribution to the greater Montreal community. Lafontaine has been actively involved with community organizations for years. Since 2013, she began working with Groupe Harmonie on organizing a series of digital workshop for seniors and she eventually joined the organization’s board in 2016. As she accepted the award, Lafontaine reminded Concordia that her work is not done. Senior isolation, access to digital technology, and challenges of telecom affordability are just some of the issues on her mind. ACT is ecstatic for the work that Constance has done in Montreal communities, where she has spearheaded countless projects, meetings, interventions and events. Her commitment to conduct meaningful community research has been imperative in shaping much of ACT’s work as well as guiding other emerging researchers in the process of community engaged scholarship. We celebrate this incredible accomplishment, congratulating and thanking Constance for her phenomenal work.

Celebrating Julia Henderson’s Election

ACT celebrates as post-doctoral fellow Julia Henderson has been elected as a member-at-large of the North American Network in Aging Studies (NANAS). Henderson brings an energetic and professional attitude to the position with a focus on bringing awareness of age studies to the theatre and performance disciplines. Involved in NANAS for some time, she earned the Emerging Scholar Conference Paper award at the joint ENAS-NANAS conference held at Trent University in 2019. When asked her thoughts on this position she replied, “I am delighted to join the NANAS Governing Council as Vice Chair and look forward to working with the new Chair Kate de Medeiros and the other council members over the coming year. I am both excited and daunted to take the lead on developing strategies for NANAS to address and expand diversity and inclusion at this critical time.” We look forward to seeing the work she will do in this new position and congratulate her on such a wonderful achievement. Finally for those of you who are members, Henderson says, “I invite NANAS members who would like to join me in these efforts to contact me directly at julia.henderson@ubc.ca”.

Paper or Plastic Right to Your Door

When the pandemic rolled into Montreal in the early days of March, ACT decided to work with its local Montreal allies to support older adults in the Montreal community. We set up a grocery delivery project for older adults who were asked by government authorities to remain confined in their homes.

 

ACT partnered with Stephanie Dupont, a community organizer for the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest, as well as New Hope Seniors’ Centre, a community organization that works with isolated older adults. We launched our project in late March in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) neighbourhood of Montreal, where our Concordia University campus is based.

The local Meals on Wheels program had temporarily shut down because of COVID-19, and the NDG Grocery Response team looked to take over the client list and offer their services to other seniors in need. Creating a partnership with a local grocery store, the team set up a grocery ordering and delivery service that could get food to seniors within three days (sometimes even the same day). Recruiting volunteers from Concordia and from the community, the NDG Grocery Response project launched a phone service which older adults and isolated individuals could call. Callers would leave a message asking either for help with groceries or questions about the service. These messages would be dispatched to our team of volunteers who call back the clients and help them fill out an order.

As the project is now in its third month our client list has become relatively steady. Many of our volunteers have created strong relationships with our callers. While the project’s primary goal was to help food insecurity, combating isolation especially during a pandemic was almost as important. Volunteers were encouraged to have casual conversations with older adults, and many developed positive relationships that, for some, even extended beyond our program.

An important part of the project involved designing tools and promising practices for the implementation of similar projects across communities. A number of initiatives–beyond NDG–have drawn from the tools that were developed as part of this project, and ACT and its community partners have worked with other groups to help them start up their own grocery delivery service.

While the city starts to slowly re-open, the service is not going away anytime soon. Despite stores opening and people going back to work, programs like the local Meals on Wheels are still shut down, and many seniors prefer not venturing to the grocery store.. In fact, the project has brought to light the fact that seniors deal with food insecurity and difficulty accessing grocery store products in our neighbourhood for a number of reasons, not just because of a pandemic and physical distancing measures. With our partners, we are working to see how we can contribute to building lasting measures for a more food secure community.

 

Here is some early media coverage of the project:

  1. http://www.thesuburban.com/life/community/pandemic-emergency-grocery-program-launched-for-seniors-70-in-ndg/article_52d9a384-8003-11ea-a58a-af4ce7b1f3a8.html
  2. https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1941294
  3. https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/covid-19-food-services-are-here-to-help-seniors-in-n-d-g-lachine/
  4. https://globalnews.ca/news/6829391/coronavirus-ndg-seniors-grocery-delivery/
  5. http://www.concordia.ca/cunews/main/stories/2020/04/16/concordias-act-project-facilitates-grocery-delivery-for-ndg-seniors-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.html

ACT develops flyer for community resources in NDG, Montreal for COVID-19

In collaboration with community organizations, ACT has developed a bilingual flyer that outlines COVID-19 community resources in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) neighbourhood of Montréal, Québec. ACT has been working with allies in the community to develop an outreach strategy, especially to reach older adults who are not online. This flyer is currently being distributed at COVID-19 testing clinics, and will soon be distributed door-to-door to the 35,000 households in the neighbourhood.

 

EXTENDED DEADLINE FOR Special Issue CFP: “Age and Performance: Expanding Intersectionality” (TRiC/RTaC) – March 1 2020

Theatre Research in Canada/ Recherches théâtrales au Canada

“Age and Performance: Expanding Intersectionality” 

Special Issue CFP 

Guest Editors: Benjamin Gillespie (Graduate Center, CUNY), Julia Henderson (University of British Columbia), Núria Casado-Gual (University of Lleida, Catalonia, Spain)

As aging populations continue to expand rapidly, generating what Robert N. Butler has called the “longevity revolution,” cultural awareness is growing about the systemic cultural inequities restricting and repressing older people. The expanding field of humanities-based age studies has begun to explore how normative cultural expectations surrounding age (frequently translated into assumptions about how to “act one’s age”) not only pose limits on older people, but also condition perceptions (and prejudices) about all ages across the life course. In comparison to other aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, race, or ability, age often remains ignored. In the words of age studies pioneer Margaret Morganroth Gullette, age is “entrenched in implicit systems of discrimination without adequate movements of resistance to oppose them” (15). Elinor Fuchs, one of the first scholars to explicitly incorporate an age-studies perspective in theatre research, contends that “the dividing line between youth and age is constantly elusive,” precisely because age, contrary to other markers of identity, is an overtly dynamic category based on two contradictory principles: change and continuity (70).

Scholars working within cultural age studies have started to address age as a point of intersection across many disciplines. However, as Valerie Barnes Lipscomb affirms, “theatre has lagged behind, focusing more on theatre projects with older people than on theorizing age” (193). This special issue seeks to understand theatre’s role in, and potential for, reinforcing and resisting ageism as well as the so-called narrative of decline that favours a negative view of old age (Gullette 2004) . Expanding theatre and performance research to incorporate age-studies perspectives will illuminate the constructedness of age and increase our understanding of the diverse phenomenon of aging and its performative qualities. As Michael Mangan demonstrates in his monograph Staging Ageing: Theatre, Performance and the Narrative of Decline, many of the concerns shared by theatre scholars and artists, including issues of empathy or subjectivity in drama and performance, are inherently involved in perceiving age identity (though such perceptions often remain unconscious).

Foregrounding the intersections of theatre, performance, and cultural age studies, this will be the first journal special issue to focus specifically on the role of age in Canadian theatre and performance. The issue will explore age identities across the life course and investigate ageism and its resistance through questions of temporality, aesthetics, embodiment, difference, language, performance, and performativity.

Article submissions may engage with some of the following questions:

 Following the work of Kathleen Woodward and Anne Davis Basting, how do perfomative renderings of aging and theatrical casting practices help us read the aging      body on and off stage?
● How do performances of gender, sexuality, race, and ability intersect with age performance and performativity?
● In what ways do live theatre and performance challenge us to spectate age differently in relation to other cultural forms such as film?
● How are stereotypical representations of aging overcome by the work of contemporary playwrights, theatre companies, directors, or actors?
● What new understandings of age and across life course emerge out of theatre and performance practices?

Submissions of 300-word abstracts should be sent by March 1st 2020, by email to: ageperformancetric@gmail.com, copied to the TRiC editorial office at tric.rtac@utoronto.ca. TRIC/RTAC is a bilingual journal, and we welcome submissions in both English and French. For detailed submission guidelines see: http://tricrtac.ca/en/for-authors/. The issue is scheduled to appear in November 2021.

 

Theatre Research in Canada/ Recherches théâtrales au Canada

Numéro thématique : « Au croisement de l’âge et de la performance » 

Appel à contributions

 

Directeurs du numéro : Benjamin Gillespie (Graduate Center, CUNY), Julia Henderson (University of British Columbia), Núria Casado-Gual (Université de Lleida, Catalogne, Espagne)

 

À mesure que les populations vieillissantes continuent de croître avec rapidité, engendrant ce que Robert N. Butler appelle la « révolution de la longévité », une prise de conscience s’effectue quant aux inégalités culturelles systémiques dont les personnes plus âgées sont la cible. Les chercheurs en études sur le vieillissement, un domaine en sciences humaines en plein essor en ce moment, ont commencé à explorer de quelles façons les attentes culturelles normatives liées à l’âge (comment l’on doit agir en fonction de son âge, par exemple) imposent des limites sur les personnes plus âgées et conditionnent nos perceptions de la vieillesse (et nos préjugés à son égard). Comparativement à d’autres aspects de l’identité — le genre, la sexualité, la race ou les capacités, par exemple —, on s’est peu intéressé jusqu’ici à l’âge. Or, selon Margaret Morganroth Gullette, pionnière des études sur le vieillissement, l’âge est « ancré dans des systèmes implicites de discrimination pour lesquels il n’existe pas de mouvement de résistance adéquat » (15, traduction). Elinor Fuchs, une des premières chercheures à intégrer explicitement la perspective des études sur le vieillissement en recherches théâtrales, affirme quant à elle que « la ligne de démarcation entre la jeunesse et la vieillesse continue de nous échapper » parce que contrairement aux autres marqueurs identitaires, il s’agit d’une catégorie ouvertement dynamique fondée sur deux principes contradictoires : le changement et la continuité (70, traduction).

 

Les chercheurs qui s’intéressent aux aspects culturels des études sur le vieillissement ont commencé à se servir de l’âge comme point de rencontre entre de nombreuses disciplines. Or, Valerie Barnes Lipscomb fait valoir que « le théâtre accuse du retard à ce chapitre, s’intéressant davantage aux projets de théâtre auxquels participent des personnes âgées qu’à la théorisation du vieillissement » (193, traduction). Ce numéro thématique cherche à comprendre le rôle et le potentiel du théâtre dans le renforcement de la discrimination fondée sur l’âge et la résistance à celle-ci, de même que son rôle dans les récits de déclin qui mettent de l’avant une vision négative de la vieillesse (Gullette 2004). En élargissant le champ de recherche des études théâtrales et des études de la performance de sorte à y intégrer des perspectives empruntées aux études sur le vieillissement, nous pourrons mieux comprendre la construction de l’âge, de même que les divers phénomènes liés au vieillissement et ses qualités performatives. Comme le démontre Michael Mangan dans sa monographie Staging Ageing: Theatre, Performance and té Narrative of Decline, bon nombre des préoccupations qu’ont en commun les chercheurs en théâtre et les artistes de ce milieu — l’empathie et la subjectivité en théâtre et sur scène, par exemple — sont intrinsèquement engagées dans la perception de l’identité conditionnée par l’âge (même si celle-ci demeure souvent inconsciente).

 

Situé au croisement des études du théâtre, de la performance et du vieillissement en lien avec la culture, ce numéro thématique sera le premier à porter spécifiquement sur le rôle que joue l’âge dans le contexte du théâtre et de la performance au Canada. Il s’intéressera aux identités liées à l’âge tout au long du parcours de vie et s’interrogera sur la discrimination fondée sur l’âge et la résistance à celle-ci en s’attardant à des enjeux liés à la temporalité, à l’esthétique, à l’incarnation, à la différence, à la langue, à la performance et à la performativité.

 

Les propositions pourront explorer les pistes suivantes (la liste n’est pas exhaustive) : 

  • En suivant les réflexions de Kathleen Woodward et Anne Davis Basting, comment les représentations sur scène du vieillissement et les pratiques de distribution des rôles en théâtre nous aident-elles à lire le corps vieillissant sur scène et hors scène?
  • Comment les performances liées au genre, à la sexualité, à la race et aux capacités recoupent-elles les performances liées à l’âge et la performativité?
  • En quoi les arts vivants nous incitent-ils à regarder l’âge autrement que le font d’autres formes culturelles comme le cinéma?
  • Comment les dramaturges, les compagnies théâtrales, les metteurs en scène ou les comédiens de l’époque contemporaine réussissent-ils à surmonter les stéréotypes associés au vieillissement?
  • Quelles nouvelles conceptions de l’âge et du parcours de vie émergent des pratiques employées en théâtre et en performance?

 

Nous invitons les personnes intéressées à soumettre par courriel un résumé d’article de 300 mots d’ici le 1er mars 2020 à l’adresse ageperformancetric@gmail.com, avec copie conforme à l’équipe éditoriale de la revue au tric.rtac@utoronto.ca.

Comme RTaC est une revue bilingue, vous êtes libres de proposer une contribution en français ou en anglais.

Pour prendre connaissance de notre guide de présentation d’un article, allez au https://tricrtac.ca/fr/for-authors/.

La parution du numéro est prévue pour Novembre 2021.